TRAVEL BAN UPDATE: “SOPS” Continue To Flow From 9th Cir. Judges in Washington v. Trump — WSJ & WASHPOST Hang “Stupid But Constitutional” Tag On Trump — CNN’s Danny Cevallos Agrees With Rappaport That Trump Has Good Chance Of Ultimate Legal Win!

What’s a “SOP?”  That was BIA lingo for “separate opinion,” a fairly frequent occurrence on the “Schmidt Board.”

There are now five separate opinions commenting on the refusal of the en banc 9th Circuit to vacate the panel’s decision in State of Washington v. Trump following the Government’s decision to withdraw it’s appeal form the TRO on “Travel Ban 1.0:”

“This order is being filed along with a concurrence from Judge Reinhardt, a concurrence from Judge Berzon, a dissent from Judge Kozinski, a dissent from Judge Bybee, and a dissent from Judge Bea. No further opinions will be filed.

Josh Gerstein explains in Politico:

“President Donald Trump’s travel ban has triggered an unusually caustic public spat among the judges of the federal appeals court that first took up the issue.

The disagreement began to play out publicly Wednesday when five 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges publicly recorded their disagreement with a decision three of their colleagues issued last month refusing to allow Trump to reinstate the first version of his travel ban executive order.
The fight escalated dramatically on Friday with the five Republican-appointed judges filing another withering attack on the earlier opinion and two liberal judges accusing their conservative colleagues of trying to make an end-run around the traditional judicial process.

In the new opinion, Judge Alex Kozinski blasted the earlier ruling for essentially ignoring the fact that most of those affected by Trump’s initial travel ban have no constitutional rights.

“This St. Bernard is being wagged by a flea on its tail,” Kozinski wrote, joined by Judges Carlos Bea, Jay Bybee, Sandra Ikuta and Consuelo Callahan.

Kozinski’s opinion harshly criticized the earlier 9th Circuit decision for blessing the idea that courts could take account of Trump’s campaign-trail statements vowing to implement a Muslim ban.

“My colleagues err by failing to vacate this hasty opinion. The panel’s unnecessary statements on this subject will shape litigation near and far. We’ll quest aimlessly for true intentions across a sea of insults and hyperbole. It will be (as it were) a huge, total disaster,” Kozinski said, in an an apparent tip of the hat to Trump’s bombast.

That didn’t sit well with Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who accused his colleagues of trying to affect the ongoing litigation over Trump’s redrafted executive order.

“Judge Kozinski’s diatribe, filed today, confirms that a small group of judges, having failed in their effort to undo this court’s decision with respect to President Trump’s first Executive Order, now seek on their own, under the guise of a dissent from the denial of en banc rehearing of an order of voluntary dismissal, to decide the constitutionality of a second Executive Order that is not before this court,” wrote Reinhardt, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter. “That is hardly the way the judiciary functions. Peculiar indeed!”

Another liberal 9th Circuit judge, Marsha Berzon, weighed in Friday with a more restrained rejection of her colleagues’ efforts to undermine the earlier ruling.

“Judges are empowered to decide issues properly before them, not to express their personal views on legal questions no one has asked them. There is no appeal currently before us, and so no stay motion pending that appeal currently before us either,” wrote Berzon, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “All the merits commentary in the dissents filed by a small minority of the judges of this court is entirely out of place.”
“My dissenting colleagues should not be engaging in a one-sided attack on a decision by a duly constituted panel of this court,” Berzon added. “We will have this discussion, or one like it. But not now.”

Kozinski responded by accusing his liberal colleagues of trying to silence the court’s public debate on the issue.”

“My colleagues’ effort to muzzle criticism of an egregiously wrong panel opinion betrays their insecurity about the opinion’s legal analysis,” wrote Kozinski, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan.”

Here’s the link to Gerstein’s article:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/9th-circuit-judges-feud-trump-travel-ban-236211

And, here is the link to the court’s order containing all of the opinions, so you can judge for yourself:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2017/03/17/17-35105_Amd_Order.pdf

Meanwhile, the WSJ Editorial Board channeled a little of the late Justice Antonin Scalia:

“The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wished aloud that all federal judges be issued a stamp that said “Stupid but Constitutional.” Such a stamp would have been useful this week to the two federal judges who bounced President Trump’s revised travel ban that suspends immigration from six Muslim-majority countries that the Administration says pose particular terror risks.

Our view is that the ban is lousy policy, and any urgency that Mr. Trump’s first-week executive order once had is gone. But after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the original version, the White House went back to the drafting board and tailored the new order to address the court’s objections. The President has vast discretion over immigration, and the do-over is grounded both in statute and core presidential powers, which is when the Supreme Court’s Youngstown decision teaches that a President’s authority to act is strongest.”

Read the complete editorial here:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-trump-legal-exception-1489706694

On today’s editorial page, the Washington Post made much the same point, if only a little less emphatically with respect to the Administration’s legal position:

“THE SPEED and enthusiasm with which two federal courts halted President Trump’s latest travel executive order might suggest that the revised policy is as obviously problematic as the last, which was a sloppy rush job that the government poorly defended in court. In fact, the revised policy, while still more likely to harm than help national security, is legally far more defensible. Decades of precedent instruct judges to defer to the executive branch on immigration and national security matters such as this. It should surprise no one if the Supreme Court eventually allows the Trump administration to proceed.”

Read the complete Post editorial here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-new-travel-order-is-self-defeating-and-maybe-legal-too/2017/03/17/95171a6c-0a93-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.7cf47133cd49

Finally, CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos makes many of the same points that Nolan Rappaport has made in his articles in The Hill in predicting that the Administration legally has a winner if they are ever able to get this issue to the Supremes:

“The president is in charge of immigration. Immigration policy, by its very definition, is a form of discrimination. The only truly nondiscriminatory immigration policy would be: Everyone come in, whenever you want. Anything short of that is discrimination in some form, and it’s generally within the president’s province. This is not some village rezoning policy. This is national immigration policy, and it’s different than any of the other Establishment Clause cases.
If courts can look into this particular President’s prior statements when considering the constitutionality of his actions, then every single executive action is potentially vulnerable. A gender-neutral executive order could be challenged as discriminatory against women. After all, this is the candidate who believes women can just be grabbed by the …, well, you know. A presidential action that is disability-neutral could be challenged on the basis that the candidate mocked a disabled reporter.
While the court in Hawaii cited established Supreme Court precedent in finding a probable Establishment Clause violation, the appellate courts could still find that Trump’s executive authority prevails. Yes, the district court cited some controlling authority, but an appellate court could distinguish those cases from the unique case before it — one that pits constitutional executive power head-to-head with the First Amendment.”

Read the full Cevallos analysis here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/opinions/trump-win-travel-ban-appeal-danny-cevallos-opinion/index.html

Then, read Nolan’s previous articles from The Hill or as reposted on this blog.

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Overall, I think it is a good thing when there is some spirited dissent and disagreement among members of a collegial court like the 9th Circuit.  It shows that the Judges are engaged and that they care about the issues, as they should. Also, dissent is often directed at other courts (like the Supreme Court), at Congress, the Executive, or at educating the media and the public at large about important legal issues. Without dissent and the resulting dialogue it often provokes, you would have “a room full of people patting each other on the back.” And, what’s the purpose of a “deliberative” collegial court that doesn’t “deliberate?”

PWS

03/18/17

 

9th Cir. En Banc — After 80 Pages, 9-2 Majority Finds Mexican Gov. “Unwilling Or Unable To Prevent” Persecution Of Gays — Dissent Bemoans “Usurpation” Of BIA’s Fact-Finding Authority — BRINGAS-RODRIGUEZ V. SESSIONS

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/03/08/13-72682.pdf

Judge Wardlaw for the majority:

“In Castro-Martinez, we also failed to consider the difference between a country’s enactment of remedial laws and the eradication of persecutory practices, often long ingrained in a country’s culture. Rejecting Castro’s claim that, in Mexico, a systematic pattern or practice of persecution against homosexuals remained, we found Castro’s evidence unpersuasive “in light of recent country reports,” which showed that the “Mexican government’s efforts to prevent violence and discrimination against homosexuals . . . ha[d] increased in recent years.” Castro- Martinez, 674 F.3d at 1082.

Mexico is to be lauded for its efforts. But it is well recognized that a country’s laws are not always reflective of actual country conditions. It is not unusual that a country’s “de jure commitments to LGBTI protection do not align with the de facto reality of whether the State is able and willing to provide protection.” Brief for UNHCR as Amicus Curiae at 4. And we have recently recognized that Mexico has experienced “an increase in violence against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals during the years in which greater legal protections have been extended to these communities.” Avendano-Hernandez v. Lynch, 800 F.3d 1072, 1081 (9th Cir. 2015) (emphasis in original).

Moreover, the anti-discrimination efforts discussed in Castro-Martinez seem to have been made by the national government, and thus do not necessarily reveal anything about the practices within state or municipal jurisdictions. See Madrigal v. Holder, 716 F.3d 499, 507 (9th Cir. 2013) (noting that while Mexico’s national government was willing to control the drug cartel that attacked the petitioner, it was not necessarily able to do so, in part because state and local officials were involved with drug traffickers).”

Writing for the dissent, Judge Bea (who claims to be the only U.S. Circuit Judge to actually have been the subject of deportation proceedings), joined by Judge O’Scannlain:

“I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion because it usurps the power of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to determine facts. It does this by reciting, but ultimately departing, from the “substantial evidence” standard which states that agency “findings of fact are conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary.” 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B) (emphasis added).”

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The Administration apparently believes that cases like this are going to be resolved on an “assembly line” operation with U.S. Immigration Judges sitting in “shifts” in detention centers from 6 AM until 10 PM.

While notable for its potential precedential effect, this case is not particularly unusual in terms of the difficult factual and legal issues that arise daily in U.S. Immigration Court in asylum cases coming from countries “south of our border.” This happened to be Mexico, but LGBT cases involving individuals from the Northern Triangle are quite common, even in jurisdictions like the Arlington Immigration Court.

I note that the amicus views of the UNHCR fare much better in the majority’s decision than they typically do these days at the BIA. For example, in Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227, 248 (BIA 2014), the BIA summarily “blew off” the views of the UNHCR on the issue of “particular social group.”

It’s also interesting that notwithstanding the dissent, the BIA actually lacks de novo fact finding authority of its own. Following a regulation change during the “Ashcroft era,” that authority belongs to the Immigration Judge with review by the BIA for “clear error.”

PWS

03/14/17